Virtualization for computer networking skills development in a distance learning environment

Donelan, Helen; Smith, Andrew and Wong, Patrick (2018). Virtualization for computer networking skills development in a distance learning environment. Computer Applications in Engineering Education, 26(4) pp. 872–883.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/cae.21928

Abstract

Virtualisation is a core technology for teaching networking and operating system skills. In a distance learning, or e-learning, environment, the use of virtualisation presents different challenges – both technical and pedagogical. In the initiative presented here, distance learning students studying a module on computer networking and server technologies were required to install virtual machines on their own computers in order to carry out practical labs originally designed for a classroom environment. This research explores and evaluates the strategies developed to support students via a survey of students completing the module. The findings show that the majority of students found it a valuable learning experience and developed practical skills relevant to computer networking careers. Recommendations are made to inform the future development of courses considering the use of virtual machines installed on students’ machines to enable practical labs to be undertaken at a distance.

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